Thursday, December 10, 2015

Review: Ana of California

Ana of California
By Andi Teran
Published: June 30, 2015

A modern take on the classic coming-of-age novel, inspired by Anne of Green Gables

In the grand tradition of Anne of Green GablesBridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic. Fifteen-year-old orphan Ana Cortez has just blown her last chance with a foster family. It’s a group home next—unless she agrees to leave East Los Angeles for a farm trainee program in Northern California.

When she first arrives, Ana can’t tell a tomato plant from a blackberry bush, and Emmett Garber is skeptical that this slight city girl can be any help on his farm. His sister Abbie, however, thinks Ana might be just what they need. Ana comes to love Garber Farm, and even Emmett has to admit that her hard work is an asset. But when she inadvertently stirs up trouble in town, Ana is afraid she might have ruined her last chance at finding a place to belong.

My review:

Ana Cortez has been in and out of foster homes and group homes since her grandmother died. A summer internship at Garber Farm is her last chance. If she makes it through, she can become an emancipated adult. Ana doesn't expect much and things seem bleaker when she is greeted by the very reluctant Emmett Garber who is expecting the new farm intern to be a boy. Thankfully Abbie Garber is thrilled to have Ana there and Ana gradually proves herself to Emmett and the other farm hands. But Ana is waiting for the other shoe to drop because she always inadvertently screws things up.

I loved Anne of Green Gables as a young teen. I devoured the miniseries and then read a few of the books. This novel is "inspired" by the classic story and there are scenes that definitely pay homage to it including the hair incident but Andi Teran's modern take does not have the same warm tone of the original. That doesn't make it a bad novel by any means but readers expecting Anne of Green Gables set in modern day California may be disappointed.

I liked Ana and felt really bad for her situation. I enjoyed seeing the relationship she built with Abbie and how she won the others over. Readers of Anne of Green Gables will recognize some key scenes that have been given a new twist to fit with this story like Anne's hair color experience and the raspberry cordial scene. Familiar characters are here as well with the nosy neighbor, the troublesome boy and the new kindred spirit. There are also unique elements to the story like Ana's background in foster care, Abbie's past, life on the farm and the community they live in. 

The elements that didn't work as well for me were the multiple view points that felt a little jarring and the development of the secondary characters. I wasn't a big fan of Ana's new friend, Rye (the Diana of the story) and I didn't really care for her relationship with Cole (Gilbert Blythe). I found Rye to be annoying and not someone I'd want to be friends with. Overall however I liked the novel with its small town flair and eccentric characters.  I think fans of Anne of Green Gables who don't expect this to be an exact retelling will be able to enjoy the similarities without being disappointed by the differences. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Thanks for the review! I have been so curious about this book, because I am a huge Anne fan. But the one thing that sort of makes me wonder about this book is the fact that you aren't a fan of Cole (Gilbert) in the novel. YIKES! He is one of my favorite characters, so I am not sure I could handle that. However, I still might check it out and go into it with the mindset that it is a loose retelling. Great review, Christina!

  2. Sorry to hear this one fell a little short of expectations! Diana and Gilbert are two of the most important characters in Anne of Green Gables, so it's a real shame their counterparts in this adaptation didn't do the originals justice :(


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